So How Did the Democrats Do With Those ‘Sabotage Ads’ Touting GOP Crazies?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

A couple of weeks ago you wrote about the trend by Democrats to meddle in GOP primaries by boosting the most radical candidates, presumably because they’d be easier to beat in a general election.

You also wrote this: “The Doc will make some house calls at the end of the month to determine the health of those Democratic investments. And prescribe condolences accordingly.”

So, what’s up, Doc?

– MAGAfier

Dear Mf,

Much the same as the Democratic saboteurs achieved mixed results in earlier primaries, their Tuesday tally was decidedly uneven, as the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips noted in a lively roundup.

Start with the Illinois GOP gubernatorial bakeoff.

Some believed that, with 2022 looking tough for Democrats, Republicans could take the governor’s mansion in deep blue Illinois.

That got a lot more difficult after Tuesday’s Republican primary. Voters nominated conservative firebrand state Sen. Darren Bailey over a more traditional Republican candidate to take on Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in November. Democrats are thrilled about this. Bailey wants to ban abortion in the state (except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger) and has described Chicago as “a crime-ridden, corrupt, dysfunctional hellhole.” He once tried to eject the city from the state, and he has former president Donald Trump’s endorsement.

Bailey also had $30 million worth of Pritzker and Democratic Governors Association advertising to pump him up.

Then again, the opponent Pritzker really did not want to face – Black, moderate, Aurora mayor Richard Irvin – ran a campaign grubstaked to the tune of $50 million by hedge-fund manager Kenneth Griffin.

So hold the violins, yeah?

Here’s the tally, via Ballotpedia.

Really? Fifty million bucks bought a third-place finish for Irvin?

All those dollars and no sense.

Then there’s the GOP gubernatorial race in Colorado, into which the Democratic Governors Association also stuck its nose, running an ad campaign with $1.5 million that the DGA laundered through a couple of PACs.

That was more money down the drain, as Amber Phillips noted in her WaPo piece: “Heidi Ganahl — as a University of Colorado regent, the state’s lone Republican elected statewide — defeated Greg Lopez.”

Which is to say, the moderate beat the MAGAt once again.

Ballotpedia has the numbers.

And chalk up one more for the moderates, this time in Colorado’s GOP U.S. Senate primary, which Axios’s Sophia Cai previewed this way.

In Colorado, a new Democratic super PAC cut a TV ad boosting far-right, election-denying state Rep. Ron Hanks in the June 28 GOP primary to decide who will take on Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

The group has reserved at least $1.49 million in TV ad slots across Colorado over the next few weeks.

Hanks’ moderate Republican rival Joe O’Dea accused Democrats of “hijacking the Republican nomination for an unserious candidate who has zero chance of winning.”

Here’s how WaPo’s Amber Phillips post-mortemed it: “Republicans nominated a more moderate Republican, businessman Joe O’Dea, to challenge Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D) in November. (Democrats had spent millions trying to get a far-right state representative to win the nomination.)”

Here’s the Ballotpedia ballot results.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, the moderates beat the MAGAts (and the Dimocrats) two-to-one this past Tuesday.

Your big foam hand goes here.

Did Juul’s Extremely Effective Advertising Effectively Trigger Its FDA Ban?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and perusing the Weekend Wall Street Journal (the WSJ set doesn’t read, it peruses – just ask Peggy Noonan), when I came across this piece by Jennifer Maloney, Andrew Scurria, and Alex Harring about “a federal appeals court [that] granted Juul Labs Inc. a temporary stay of the Food and Drug Administration’s order for the vaping company to pull its e-cigarettes off the U.S. market.”

Here’s the part that jumped out at me.

Regulators and lawmakers have connected Juul’s fruity flavors, hip marketing and USB-like vaporizer to a surge of underage vaping in the U.S. in 2018 and 2019. Juul has said it never targeted teens. It halted most of its U.S. advertising and stopped selling sweet and fruity flavors in 2019, part of an effort to repair its relationship with regulators, lawmakers and the public.

Is that true, Doc – Juul never targeted teens? Sounds kind of vaporous to me.

– Jewel

Dear Jewel,

It’s more accurate to say Juul always targeted teens, as this New York Times piece by Steven Kurutz noted.

When Juuls were first sold in 2015, the brand surged in popularity, partly on the strength of a vibrant ad campaign that showed young people smiling, laughing and striking poses beneath the word “Vaporized.”

By 2018, Juul had grown so popular that the brand name became a verb, with teens furtively “juuling” in high school classrooms and hallways. That same year, Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, agreed to pay $13 billion for a 35 percent stake in Juul Labs.

This 2020 piece by Terry Turner at Drugwatch was even more damning.

HOW JUUL CREATED A TEEN VAPING EPIDEMIC

Throughout the summer of 2019, as congressional staffers plowed through 55,000 documents Juul Labs had previously never made public, a picture emerged of a carefully planned effort to expose American kids to one of the world’s most addictive substances.

The documents revealed a perfect storm of stealth marketing, sleek design and high nicotine doses that Juul Labs seemingly engineered to slip under adults’ radar, buying time to addict kids to the company’s vaping products . . .

Congressional investigators found Juul Labs “deployed a sophisticated program” paying schools as much as $10,000 each to let company representatives deliver its message directly to children. In at least one presentation, without teachers or parents present, a company representative showed kids how to use a Juul e-cigarette. Other evidence showed that Juul Labs also targeted preteen kids through summer camps and out-of-school programs.

Overall, the Drugwatch piece noted, “Juul Labs’ internal documents and statements by its founders reveal the e-cigarette manufacturer lifted trade secrets from Big Tobacco to market its highly addictive vaping products to youths as young as 8. The company’s deliberate marketing plan proved successful, doubling the size of the U.S. vaping market and dominating competitors in just three years.”

Juul controlled over 75% of the e-cigarette market by then and was red hot among teens, as this 2019 Time magazine video detailed.

Here’s just a sample of the news reports that have tracked Juul’s marketing to kids over the past several years.

• The vape company Juul said it doesn’t target teens. Its early ads tell a different story.

• Juul Bought Ads Appearing on Cartoon Network and Other Youth Sites, Suit Claims 

Juul, accused of marketing to teens, settles vaping case for $40m

Last week, Insider News posted this deep dive into the rise and fall (TBD) of Juul.

To recap:

• Youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from 18% in 2005 to 10.8% in 2015

• Thanks to Juul’s relentless targeting of teens on social media, its U.S. market share went from under 5% in 2016 to 29% in 2017 to 75% in 2018

• The FDA said whoa

• Juul phased out its social media accounts

That last, of course, meant nothing: Teenage Juulers kept the social media machine whirring quite nicely all by themselves.

Regardless, why does the FDA now feel comfortable canceling Juul while greenlighting VUSE and NJOY e-cigs?

Here’s the Doc’s diagnosis: During the past few years, Juul’s teen targeting has gone over like the metric system with the American public. Maybe that’s part of the FDA’s conclusion that Juul is the black hat and VUSE and NJOY are the white hats in terms of protecting the public health.

Your smoke and mirrors go here.

Do the Saudis Really Think New York Times Readers Are Morons?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and leafing through the New York Times, when I came across this ad on the back page of the paper’s A section.

So this LIV Golf outfit thinks it’s worth maybe $200,000 to claim that it’s a force for good? Hmmm – what do you think, Doc?

– Chip Wedge

Dear Chip,

First, a primer: 1) LIV rhymes with “give”; 2) LIV is the Roman numeral for 54; 3) 54 is the number of holes a LIV tournament includes (versus the 72-hole PGA standard).

Now, the questions: 1) Do the powers that be at LIV Golf think that New York Times readers don’t know the tour is funded by the Saudi Arabia Sovereign Wealth Fund?; 2) Do the LIVniks also believe that Times readers are unaware of the wetwork Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bone Sawman commissioned in the dismembering of U.S. resident/Washington Post columnist/Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi?

Because the Twitterverse sure knows what’s what.

Oh, yeah . . . the other stuff.

Doesn’t exactly make you eager to LIV and let LIV, does it – casual fan or not.

Why Is a Missouri Senate Candidate Issuing ‘RINO Hunting Permits’?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and checking out CNN’s Reliable Sources nightly newsletter, when I came across this item.

Wait, what? This guy is encouraging Missouri voters to hunt down Republicans who aren’t MAGAts? This is really a most dangerous game – don’t you think, Doc?

– Rinoblasty

Dear Rinoblasty,

Yeah – Eric Greitens: rhymes with frightens.

Here’s the ad.

Not surprisingly, the spot has gone over like the metric system in normie circles, as the Reliable Sources newsletter noted.

Missouri news outlets did not mince words about Monday’s new campaign video from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens. “Gun-wielding Greitens releases violent ad targeting other Republicans,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said. An article by the Kansas City Star was even more blunt, calling it “Greitens’ people-hunting video.”  . . .

Greitens is not a fringe candidate. He is the disgraced former governor of the state. As Jake Tapper said on CNN, “You would think a candidate who has been accused of spousal and child abuse by his ex-wife… might consider a less violent appeal to voters.” His guest S.E. Cupp pointed out that Greitens is “leaning in” to the controversy, “very smugly promoting it,” even though the ad is “crazy, creepy and chilling.”

As the Doc has chronicled on several occasions, fondling firearms is now the two-drink minimum for red-state GOP candidates (see here and here). Greitens, however, is taking the gun gambit to a new, and lethal, low.

Remarkably, there’s nothing local broadcasters can do to stop him, given federal regulation of the public airwaves. This piece by Jerry Carnes at Fox54 provides details.

When it comes to qualified candidates who are on the ballot for federal office, television stations can not refuse their ads for any reason, including content.

According to Federal Communications Commission laws, stations can’t edit or censor.

“They have to take that ad, and the network is not liable for airing that even if it’s potentially slanderous or libelous,” explains Joseph Watson, Professor of Public Affairs Communications, Advertising & Public Relations at the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism.

Slanderous, libelous . . . or murderous, apparently.

Greg Greitens is the GOP’s ultimate Accessory Before the Fact. But we’re guessing he’s not the only GOP candidate who’ll trigger some Squid Games karma before the 2022 elections are over.

Why Are Democratic Groups Airing Ads Promoting Potential GOP Opponents?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Axios Sneak Peek, when I came across this item from Alayna Treene headlined “Dems’ sabotage ads.”

Democratic groups are buying ads touting some of the most extreme pro-Trump candidates in Republican primaries around the country — meddling in GOP contests to set up more favorable matchups in November, Axios’ Sophia Cai reports.

Why it matters: The risky gambit assumes general-election voters will reject candidates who embrace conspiracy theories or lies about the 2020 election. But it could dramatically backfire by vaulting fringe Republicans into national office.

Does that make any sense at all to you, Doc? Seems kind of Demwitted to me.

– Chris Cross

Dear Chris,

Yeah, this is one where the ratf**kers should have just set their money on fire.

Sophia Cai’s Axios report calls the roll of the failed efforts.

Sabotage ad #1

Ahead of last week’s primaries, the Nancy Pelosi-affiliated House Majority PAC funded a 30-second TV ad promoting self-declared “Trump Conservative” Chris Mathys against moderate Republican Rep. David Valadao in California’s 22nd District.

And Valadao isn’t just a moderate – he’s a turncoat. “David Valadao claims he’s Republican,” the ad’s narrator says, “yet David Valadao voted to impeach President Trump.”

Golden State election results tend to treacle in, but here are the CA-22 numbers according to Ballotpedia.

That’s David Valadao 1, House Majority PAC 0, if you’re keeping score at home.

Sabotage ad #2

In California’s 40th District, Democrat Asif Mahmood has been running ads casting Republican Greg Raths — who had to apologize last month for using antisemitic tropes — as his head-to-head opponent instead of moderate Rep. Young Kim.

Once again, Ballotpedia has the scorecard.

So, oh-for-two.

Sabotage ad #3

[I[n Colorado, a new Democratic super PAC cut a TV ad boosting far-right, election-denying state Rep. Ron Hanks in the June 28 GOP primary to decide who will take on Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

The group has reserved at least $1.49 million in TV ad slots across Colorado over the next few weeks.

Hanks’ moderate Republican rival Joe O’Dea accused Democrats of “hijacking the Republican nomination for an unserious candidate who has zero chance of winning.”

With primary day June 28, the jury’s still out on that race. Also awaiting a verdict on the 28th: GOP candidates in the Illinois gubernatorial primary, as Karl Rove notes in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Aurora, Ill., Mayor Richard Irvin—a conservative veteran and former prosecutor who emphasizes fighting crime, cutting taxes and spending, and cleaning up politics, and who happens to be black—would be a strong contender this November. That’s why Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association are spending an estimated $32 million labeling Mr. Irvin’s principal primary opponent, state Sen. Darren Bailey, as “too conservative for Illinois.”

Thirty-two million makes the other kneecapping efforts look like lunch money, even though Rove says the Democratic super PAC in Colorado could spend “as much as $3.5 million attacking [Ron] Hanks as—you guessed it—’too conservative for Colorado.’”

The Democratic Governors Association is also meddling in Colorado’s GOP gubernatorial primary, running an ad campaign with $1.5 million that the DGA laundered through a couple of PACs.

The Doc will make some house calls at the end of the month to determine the health of those Democratic investments. And prescribe condolences accordingly.

Does ‘Cancel Culture’ Equal Accountability, Punishment, or Totalitarianism? (One Per Customer, Please)

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and checking out MediaPost’s Marketing Politics Weekly when I came across this Joe Mandese piece about a new ad campaign from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

Cancel Culture Campaign Equates It With ‘Totalitarianism’

At a time when the prevalence of “cancel culture” appears to be peaking in the United States, nonprofit free speech advocacy group FIRE is breaking new ads, as part of a multimedia campaign focusing on it.

The campaign, created by DeVito/Verdi, features out-of-home billboards (see above) and print media buys (see below), equating cancel culture to a form of totalitarianism.

What the hell, Doc – now all of a sudden we’re Communist China because a few people’s noses get out of joint?

– FIRED-UP

Dear F-U,

Cancel culture is America’s ultimate Rorschach test. In his MediaPost piece, Joe Mandese points to a recent Pew Research Center survey to illustrate the great divide in defining what cancel culture actually means.

The Center’s previous study of cancel culture showed that the term can mean different things to different people, so Pew Research Center asked Americans a separate question about whether calling out others on social media for posting content that might be considered offensive is more likely to hold people accountable or to punish those who didn’t deserve it.

Overall, 51% of U.S. adults say calling out others on social media is more likely to hold people accountable, while 45% say it is more likely to punish people who didn’t deserve it. But these views have shifted somewhat since September 2020. The share of adults who say this type of behavior is more likely to hold people accountable has decreased by 7 points, while the share who say it is more likely to punish people who didn’t deserve it has gone up by 7 points.

Helpful graphic.

And now – just to complicate things – comes FIRE’s ad campaign, which follows the group’s rebranding from “the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (originally to promote free speech on college campuses) to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression to broaden its mandate toward freedom of speech overall,” according to Mandese.

He also cites Josh Gerstein’s Politico piece reporting that FIRE “has raised $28.5 million for a planned three-year, $75 million litigation, opinion research and public education campaign aimed at boosting and solidifying support for free-speech values.”

Here’s a TV spot featuring two Emerson College students – K.J. Lynum and Sam Neves – “whose conservative group was suspended by the school’s president for circulating ‘China kinda sus’ stickers promoting the theory that a Chinese government lab caused the outbreak of Covid-19.”

And here’s a FIRE print ad banging a different drum.

Then again, it’s not like FIRE is all that and a bag of MLK chips, as Politico’s Josh Gerstein notes.

While FIRE has received praise from many free-speech advocates, some critics have said the group is a thinly veiled front for conservatives looking to promote their political agenda. Since its inception, FIRE has received funding from a variety of conservative foundations, including millions from some linked to billionaire Charles Koch.

The liberal Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch has published this roll call of FIRE’s right-wing associations.

Connection to Conservative Dark Money Groups, Collaboration with Hate Group Alliance for Defending Freedom

FIRE has received millions of dollars in contributions from politically-active conservative nonprofits, including over $3.4 million from the Charles G. Koch Foundation, over $3.4 million from Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, over $1.8 million from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, over $1.3 million from the Sarah Schaife Foundation, over $1 million from the Searle Freedom Trust, and over $1 million from the Stand Together Trust.

Progressive watchdog organization Media Matters included FIRE in a 2017 piece describing how groups funded by right-wing billionaires and dark money organizations influence college campuses. Media Matters says “FIRE has partnered with anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom for some of these cases. It has also frequently weighed in on sexual misconduct cases, arguing that the definition of sexual harassment should not include ‘large amounts of constitutionally protected expression, such as any unwanted “sexual comments, gestures, jokes, or looks,”‘ and defended campus organizations that use hateful rhetoric or seek to exclude potential group members based on sexual orientation.

In other words, FIRE at your own discretion.

Why Is the SEC Mocking Stock Traders and Bitcoin Buyers?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and checking out Ad Age’s Media Buzz, when I came across this Asa Hiken piece headlined “Celebrity Crypto Endorsements Under Fire in New SEC Campaign.”

Except I couldn’t actually read the piece because I haven’t forked over a bunch of money for an Ad Age subscription.

So help me out, Doc. What the SEC is going on here?

– Cryptonaught

Dear Cryptonaught,

Apparently tired of its public image as Elon Musk’s favorite chew toy, the Securities and Exchange Commission has decided to do some biting of its own. Here’s part of an SEC press release last week.

SEC Launches Game Show-Themed Public Service Campaign

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy today unveiled a game show-themed public service campaign to help investors make informed investment decisions and avoid fraud. Recognizing that sometimes investing may look and feel like a game, the campaign titled “Investomania” reminds investors to do their due diligence when making investment decisions.

Here’s the spot pantsing the meme stock set.

The SEC campaign has elicited very different responses from different parts of the Investosphere. There is, for example, Eugene Grygo’s take at Financial Technologies Forum: “Ad Campaign Exposes SEC’s Sense of Humor.”

“We continue to look for creative and memorable ways to reach and educate investors, and we hope this year’s public service campaign, with its lighthearted approach, will attract the attention of all kinds of investors,” says Lori Schock, director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, in a prepared statement.

The meme stock crowd, however, had a different statement to make, according to Pam Martens and Russ Martens at Wall Street Parade.

Redditors Are Furious at the SEC’s New Ad Campaign Portraying Them as Idiot Investors

Redditors at the subreddit Superstonk are posting obscenities directed at Gary Gensler, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), over the new ad campaign from the SEC that appears to target young Reddit investors as fools that do no research before investing, lose all their money, and deserve a whipped-cream pie in the face.

The blowback elsewhere – from Bitcoin bros to Robinhoodniks – has been fierce.

The Doc’s diagnosis: Investments are no laughing matter, whether made in a bedroom or a boardroom. Maybe the SEC should put a little less mania in its media.

MastiGate! Is Kim Kardashian Really Fake Chewing in Her Fake-Meat Commercial?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

So there I was, minding my own business and poking around MediaPost, when I came across this Todd Wasserman piece about Kim Kardashian’s new gig as Chief Taste Consultant for Beyond Meat, which produces plant-based meatlike substances.

Kim And The Untasted Burger

Kim Kardashian is Beyond Meat’s new Chief Taste Consultant, but her ad for Beyond Meat is being mocked by some because she is supposedly “fake chewing.”

The ad, via Mythology, features Kardashian (in uncharacteristically blonde locks), saying that she believes in Beyond Meat so much that she stepped in to help with her greatest asset, which viewers at home might not know is her taste.

All is well until you notice what some have pointed out on social media, which is that Kardashian is never seen actually tasting the product.

Fake chewing, Doc? That’s hard to swallow.

– Just Trying to Keep Up

Dear JTTKU,

Let’s look at how MastiGate has played out.

First, here’s the spot.

The media mastication started last week with this TechCrunch tweet.

Two days later, Yahoo! Entertainment noted that Kardashian was being “mocked for how she eats a burger.”

Kim Kardashian is getting heat for seemingly pretending to eat food in a new ad campaign for Beyond Meat. The company’s new ‘chief taste consultant’ has fans criticizing her commercial, where she appears to not actually taste or take a bite of the plant-based food she’s promoting.

The next day Wasserman’s MediaPost piece detailed reaction in the Twitterverse.

On Twitter, Katy Wellhousen, vice president, social account director for Deutsch LA, criticized the ad. “kim kardashian fake-chewing a beyond meat burger that has no bite taken out of it is making me spiral,” tweeted Wellhousen, who works on the Taco Bell account for Deutsch.

Wellhousen wasn’t the only one. Seth Arp, a musician, tweeted, “@KimKardashian saying ‘mm’ to eating a beyond meat burger but there’s no bite taken out. Her reaction is as fake as that food they want to call ‘meat.’”

The Vegan Review’s Alice Soule promptly piled on.

[In] this advert, Kim Kardashian claims to believe so strongly in the Beyond Meat brand that she’s offering them her best asset – her taste.  But then the video cuts to her seemingly eating a mouthful of food while holding a burger that somehow seems to have no bite mark. She then comments on how amazingly delicious the Beyond Meat products are while fist-bumping the chefs and taking a few more selfies. Not once in the advert do you see Kim Kardashian eating a mouthful of the Beyond Meat products.

But then, as Shireen Khalil reported in The Daily Telegraph, Kardashian bit back.

Kim has since shared a behind-the-scenes clip to her Instagram Stories proving she ate the burger despite being accused of “fake” chewing in the 30-second ad.

“Guys, come on…,” she captioned the clip which showed her removing the top bun from a vegan burger.

“Getting rid of some of the carbs,” she explained to someone on the set.

The Doc is not on this earth long enough to document all the ins and outs of Kim’s Beyond Meat rumpus, but help yourself if you’re so inclined.

One footnote to Todd Wasserman’s MediaPost piece is this comment attached to it.

Artie White from Zoom Media Corp, May 31, 2022 at 9:10 a.m.

Hey Todd, pretty disingenuous to refer to Seth Arp as “a musician” when he’s actually a marketing director for the meat industry (https://www.linkedin.com/in/setharp.) So his comment comes with an agenda. Worth mentioning in your article, no? I know this is Mediapost but it’s still journalism.

Your conclusions go here.

Why Is Apple Vaporizing Dozens of People In Its Latest Ad?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and tooling around MediaPost, when I came across this Todd Wasserman piece about a new Apple ad that addresses data privacy.

Watch Data Buyers Go Up In Smoke

Apple has taken a public stance in favor of the privacy of its users, but rarely has it made that stance as understandable as in this new ad.

The ad, via TBWA\Chiat\Day Media Arts Lab, shows a young woman at a record store (remember those?) who hears music through a door (“Fantasy” by Esquivel) and runs toward it, only to see her picture on the door with the words “Ellie’s Data Auction.”

She enters an auction room with a life-sized hologram of herself as an auctioneer announces, “Lot Number One: Her emails.” Next up, her location data — again sold to a suspicious-looking data buyer.  “It’s not creepy,” the auctioneer says. “It’s commerce!”

Eventually Ellie gets her revenge thanks to an iPhone, but is that really what happens to our digital data, Doc? Seems totally creepy.

– Android Al

Dear Double A,

Gotta agree with you there. Here’s the Apple ad in full.

The ad suggests that an iPhone puts all your data in a –  shoutout to Al Gore – digital lockbox. But Sara Morrison at Vox says, not so fast.

The [privacy update], called App Tracking Transparency, doesn’t stop all the ways companies follow you around the internet and in your mobile apps because Apple can’t stop all tracking. Nor does it want to. Your data is still being collected, but what’s being collected and how may have changed. The end result, however, is roughly the same: You’re being targeted with ads . . .

From a user privacy standpoint, App Tracking Transparency seems like a good thing. It’s just not as good of a thing as you might have thought, or perhaps as Apple wanted you to think it was.

Memo to Ellie: Maybe you want to look into some other vaporizing tools. Just saying.

Who in Their Right Mind Would Label Kathy Barnette a ‘Woke Republican’?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News AM, when I came across this item about an ad attacking Kathy Barnette, a super-Trumpy candidate in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary.

USA Freedom Fund, which is funded, at least in part, by Club for Growth Action, has a new ad running in Pittsburgh slamming Kathy Barnette for being a “woke Republican” who wants to build a statue of former President Barack Obama. This is ironic since Barnette has a long history of attacking Obama, including repeated false accusations that he’s a Muslim.

What the hell, Doc – are we totally through the looking glass at this point?

– GOPsmacked

Dear GOPsmacked,

We’re not just through the looking glass, we’re deep into Queen of Hearts Off With Their Heads territory.

That’s what’s going on in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary right now. Medical fraud Mehmet Oz (the Doc, of all people, should know) and MAGA fraud Dave McCormick have spent a combined $28 million on ads blowtorching one another, as WHYY’s Katie Meyer has reported.

[McCormick] has raised nearly $16 million — $11 million was a loan from himself — and spent more than $14 million, chiefly on big ad buys.

That doesn’t count money from Honor Pennsylvania, a super PAC spending on McCormick’s behalf — primarily funding ads attacking Oz. The PAC has spent more than $11 million . . .

[Oz has] loaned himself more than $12 million, and he’s pulled in another $3 million or so from donors. He’s also supported by a PAC, American Leadership Action, that has spent nearly $3.5 million to oppose McCormick.

Also like McCormick, Oz has spent around $14 million, primarily on ads.

It’s a campaign classic: 1) Candidate A spends all his time telling voters Candidate B is a bum. 2) Candidate B returns the favor. 3) Voters believe them both and turn to Candidate C. (See Carol Moseley Braun’s improbable 1992 U.S. Senate victory in Illinois for further details.)

Candidate C in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate race is Kathy Barnette, “a conservative Christian commentator with a history of advocating, among other things, that the U.S. reject Muslim immigrants and that abortion be completely banned. She’s also a high-profile proponent of baseless voter fraud theories, and is running to the right of the rest of the field,” according to Meyer.

Beyond that, Barnette is surging in the polls, despite having spent a paltry $137,000 on campaign ads so far and despite Donald Trump’s endorsement of Oz. New York Times reporter Jennifer Medina captured the current dynamic in this piece.

Many voters said they were choosing who they believed would carry out Mr. Trump’s ideals, even if they and the former president disagreed on who could best accomplish that. And interviews showed how effectively Ms. Barnette, who has never held public office, had used her life story as a poor, Black child of the South to connect with white working-class voters in western Pennsylvania. At events and in her ads, Ms. Barnette often invokes the phrase “I am you.”

Other conservatives, however, are attacking Barnette. The super PAC USA Freedom Fund is running this ad accusing her of being a “woke Republican” for proposing a statue of Barack Obama in D.C.

PolitiFact has labeled the ad “mostly true.”

[USA Freedom Fund] claimed “Kathy Barnette wants to build a statue of Barack Obama right next to the one of Abraham Lincoln on Capitol Hill.”

Barnette said she did propose a statue of Obama and his family, but she never voted for him, or backed his policies. Her idea was to use three statues to show how far Black people have come since the time of slavery.

The statement is accurate but needs clarification. We rate this claim Mostly True.

But the “woke Republican” label is a joke, given Barnette’s anti-Muslim, homophobic, Big Lie track record.

Seriously